Michigan's Blake Corum can't help but think about the Heisman

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Blake Corum was 20 yards from the end zone with one defender to beat. This is known as a touchdown. He froze his would-be tackler with a stutter step and put the finishing touches on No. 4 Michigan's 27-14 win over Iowa last week.

"Sit 'em down, make ‘em miss. I knew it was Jack Campbell, All-American. He’s 6’5, about 240, big stiff guy. He’s a downhill linebacker so I knew I could sit him down with the little 'hesi' I gave him, and it was over after that," Corum said Tuesday on the Stoney & Jansen Show.

He makes it sound so easy. Through five games, he's making it look so easy. Corum leads the country with 10 rushing touchdowns, including five in one game against UConn, and has rushed for nearly 400 yards in Michigan's first two games in the Big Ten. The September Heisman talks have spilled into October. Now and then, Corum even thinks about it himself.

How couldn't he?

"Obviously I think about it a little bit, but it’s really just a day-by-day thing to me. I’m ready for Indiana now. Like, what can I do this week that can really put me in that talk? What can I do the week after that really puts me in that talk? So obviously it crosses my mind a little bit, but I wouldn’t say it crosses my mind a lot," Corum said.

Corum is a long-shot for the Heisman by virtue of his position. It used to be an award for running backs, including 11 in a row from 1973-83. But football has changed. 18 of the 21 winners since 2000 have been quarterbacks. The last running back to win it was Alabama's Derrick Henry in 2015. The last running back to even be nominated was Stanford's Bryce Love in 2017.

But Corum is closing the gap on the obvious QB candidates like Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and USC's Caleb Williams. Alabama's Bryce Young just suffered a shoulder injury. And he's ahead of Henry's pace in 2015. Henry, who beat out Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey and Clemson QB DeShaun Watson, rushed for 570 yards, 6.1 yards per carry and nine touchdowns in the first five game of the season.

Corum: 611 yards, 6.6 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns.

At this rate, he's got a chance. He's up to the sixth best Heisman odds per Vegas Insider, trailing five quarterbacks: Stroud, Williams, Young, Tennessee's Hendon Hooker and Georgia's Stetson Bennett. Corum sits at +1800. Stroud is the odds-on favorite at +150.

"It makes me feel good, but in the first couple games last year it was like that, too," Corum said. "None of these awards, nothing matters until the end of the season. It doesn’t matter what accolades you may have. And really it doesn’t matter if your team isn’t successful, you’re not going to be successful.

"So my main thing right now is just making sure we stay on this road, we keep winning, I keep helping my teammates be better. And at the end of the day, everything is going to take care of itself."

Corum did get off to a similarly strong start last year, rushing for 521 yards and seven TD's in his first five games. But an ankle injury in November slowed him down the stretch and Hassan Haskins took over Michigan's backfield. The backfield now belongs to Corum, who beefed up in the offseason to handle a heavier load. He's taken 59 carries in the last two games. That's one way to accrue the stats to stay in the Heisman conversation. Henry averaged over 30 carries in Alabama's nine SEC games in 2015.

Corum also has the benefit of running behind a group of road graders gunning for back to back Joe Moore Awards as the best offensive line in the country. Henry ran behind the Joe Moore Award winners in 2015. The Wolverines lost center Andrew Vastardis and right tackle Andrew Stueber from last year's unit, but have plugged the respective holes with grad transfer Victor Oluwatimi and senior Trente Jones.

"I couldn’t ask for a better offensive line," Corum said. "Still think they’re the best offensive line in the country even after they got the trophy last year. They’re a bunch of guys that play well together. They get one hell of a push off the ball every single snap, they don’t let no snaps off. I couldn’t ask for nothing more. They give me the smallest crease and let me work or they give me the biggest crease and let me work. You never know what you’re going to get, but you know there’s always going to be something there."

As well as he played last week, Corum felt like he could've played better. This is the mark of a star. Despite rushing for 133 yards against one of the best run defenses in the country, he said he was "upset with myself" after a couple of carries toward the end of the game when "I could've got out of some tackles if I would've just picked my feet up a little bit."

"A couple of those run, I was like, man, I wish I could get them back because it could’ve been 10, but maybe it could’ve been 50," said Corum. "I really want to work on getting my feet up and maybe even working on my vision a little bit more. Maybe if I can make some cuts a little differently, it might be a big play."

That's where Corum's focus likes heading into another road game at Indiana. It was the Indiana game last year in which he sprained his ankle. This year, it can be the game in which he furthers his case for the Heisman.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Matthew Holst / Stringer